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Islanders 5, Penguins 3: Anders Lee saves the day

On NBCSN’s Rivalry Night, the Islanders and Penguins didn’t disappoint with 8 goals between them in a game that came down to the wire.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders
Just a regular night’s work in Anders Lee’s office.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It looked like the New York Islanders were going to cruise to a 3-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but as the 2016-17 Islanders are known to do, they blew a lead in the third, only this time, they were able to take the lead once again with less than 30 seconds left in the 3rd period. 3 seconds after that, Kulemin sealed the game with an empty net goal for a 5-3 victory.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

They Can Actually Score!

The Islanders came out strong in the first period, with Shane Prince hitting the post two times before Johnny Boychuk finally scored towards the end of the first period.

Ryan Strome looked good by the eye test, and he always seems to show chemistry with Shane Prince. Prince hit the iron twice, and despite not being able to put any of those chances away, Prince and Strome should continue to play together. They seem like a speedy combination, and one can hope that Strome’s learned whatever lesson he needed to with his mystery time in the press box.

In the second period, Casey Cizikas added to the pucks off the post with a backhand shot that just barely missed an empty net. However, Jason Chimera would score off a weird bouncing puck that took a few deflections and went behind Matt Murray to give the Isles a 2-0 lead. Cizikas would add to that later, putting the Islanders up 3-0.

Despite the 3-0 lead, Matt Murray made some great saves, including one incredible one on John Tavares in the second period.

The Collapse

Well, it wouldn’t be an Isles game without this. With the Islanders taking a 3-0 lead into the third period, it seemed likely that the Penguins would come out strong. Early into the period, Conor Sheary scored to put Pittsburgh on the board. After that, the Penguins pressured the Isles, with Greiss having to make a strong save on a Phil Kessel breakaway shot. The Islanders had a few opportunities to regain a three goal lead, however Kris Letang made some great saves when Murray found himself out of position. Jason Chimera then let Justin Schultz sneak past him and Schultz scored to make the game 3-2.

Shortly after, Evgeni Malkin tied the game up on a shift with Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel, the Penguins’ three-headed monster.

Crosby’s two points tonight highlighted just how dominant he’s been against the Isles, with some eye-popping stats.

The Comeback

It looked likely that this was going to be one of those games where the Islanders blow a third period lead and leave points on the table, this time to a division rival. However, Anders Lee deflected Thomas Hickey’s shot past Matt Murray with less than 30 seconds left in the third period.

Nikolai Kulemin sealed the win with an empty net goal.

The Walking Dead

Despite the win, the power play is still struggling to say the least. The Isles had basically an entire two-minute 5 on 3, and while they did get five shots on goal, none of them actually ended up in the goal, which continues to be a problem. Until they can start to score on with the man advantage, it’s going to be difficult for them to score goals and win games overall. The PP has been a real momentum killer this season, and it’s easy to see why.

Up Next

Next, the Islanders face the Washington Capitals tomorrow in DC. The Capitals are 13-6-2 and 3rd in the Metropolitan division, so they present another challenge for the Isles. The Caps will also be well rested, with their last game played on Saturday in a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, so they’ll be looking to get back to their winning ways against a tired Isles team.